By Blake Hampton
WICHITA - Celebrating 10 years, Wichita Pride is having its annual Pride events. It’s always a good time and welcomes anyone who wants to join. With a decade of being a part of the community the goal for this year is to share that corner of history with participants. Pride throughout the nation has become a symbol for the work in equality and removing discrimination - as work continues to make an event where anyone who has ever felt like an outsider can come and be a part of a community.
The party starts Saturday night at 6pm on Sept. 19 outside at the Mid-America All-Indian Center. Adina Ronee is MCing the party. There will be entertainment with the band Yale Street Players headlining on stage. Following the precedent that started last year for the entertainment, there will be many performers from all walks of life. So anyone who wants to perform at the Block Party may get in contact with Wichita Pride. Food vendor Passage to India will be there for hungry partygoers with its brand of Indian food. Drinks will be available; alcohol for those 21 and older.
At 10pm the party will move to Club Boomerang for Drag Night. Many drag queens and kings will be there to perform. You must be 18 to enter.
Rally, Parade and Festival
The Rally starts at noon on Sunday, Sept. 20 at the old Sedgwick County Courthouse. It’s the get together before the big parade. Equality Kansas will have speakers to inspire those at the rally. Then the parade begins at 1pm. From the courthouse the parade travels westward on Central until it reaches the Indian Center. There will be floats and marchers from various organizations and businesses.
The party starts up again at 1:30pm after the Pride Parade at the Indian Center with more entertainment and snacks from First Metropolitan Community Church. Inside the Mid-America All-Indian Center there will be vendors with gifts, info from LGBT-friendly organizations, and free HIV screenings from the Sedgwick County LGBT Health Coalition.
Cosmic Bowling and the Family Picnic
Bowling is at Seneca Bowl, 1909 S. Seneca, from 10:30pm-12:30am on Sep. 25. Entry fee is covered with a pride button.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
TOPEKA - This year’s pride festival in Topeka is full of events and activities for the entire family. It’s not just one day, or even one weekend of LGBTQ celebration – it’s an entire week of pride events. The buzz has been building for weeks; if you happened to drive past 21st and Western, you may have noticed a billboard for the Topeka Pride Festival, with the slogan, “Celebrating Diversity in our Community.” Pride organizers raised almost $100 more than their goal of $875 to get the billboard produced. It’s clear that this year’s pride festivities will be full of energy, community, and celebration.
The festivities kick off Sept. 21 and culminate on the 27 with the first-ever parade for Topeka Pride, featuring the Topeka Chief of Police James Brown as Grand Marshall, as well as a street festival in the North Topeka Arts District.
Admission is free; though organizers encourage attendees to bring canned goods to donate to area food pantries.
Confirmed performers include drag performer Tyreese DeMornay, and drag performer and transgender woman Solana Solstice. Performer TRaynbow, who has been performing music since 2006, holds titles such as Mr. Capital City 2008, Mr. Xcalibur 2009, and Mr. Kansas Regional International Inc. 2010. This year’s pride festival also includes dancer Vanessa Childs, as well as Ms. Amanda Love, who writes and performs her own parody songs. She also is a drag performer.
Attendees can check out vendors including Equality Kansas of Topeka, Transgender Faith Tour, the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, Positive Connections and more.
A pride poetry booth called the Speak Easy Poets Booth will be one of the featured vendors at this year’s pride festival. The booth will include a closet door and thumb tacks; visitors of the booth can enter the room and pin their own printed poetry related to the LGBTQ community to add to the wall. For onsite contributions, a typewriter and other writing materials will be provided.
WICHITA - Saturday, Oct. 3 marks the date of the second annual Ecofest at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 7202 E. 21st St. From 10am-4pm, family members of all ages will find something to connect with, interact with, and take home. Living Green, the foundational mission of Ecofest, reflects the values and principles of First UU members.
Crafts, upcycled and recycled items for the home will be available and affordable. Examples of “found” materials and unique artwork from those repurposed materials will be featured. The “Bug Lady” will speak about her work, and entertain from 10-11:30am. Food, including a great “Potato Bar” will be ready to enjoy, and baked goods to buy for later. Kind Kravings food truck will provide luscious treats for the vegans. Raffles, rickshaw rides, books, Little River Trading Company items: all to be enjoyed.
“We’re really excited at the support we’re finding within the business community, including the Green Biz folks here in Wichita this year. It’s looking very good,” says Vivien Minshall-Ford, who, along with Marcia Ellsworth, co-chairs Ecofest 2015. “We’re certain everyone will find something to like.” Admission is $1 for adults, kids under 12 are free.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
MANHATTAN - The third TransKansas Conference will be held at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Manhattan Sept. 11-12. Stephanie Mott, executive director of TransKansas, says attendees can look forward to a total of 32 workshops and presentations. The conference offers four tracks per day, one in the morning and three in the afternoon, and will include presentations and workshops that focus on a variety of topics related to the transgender community. One track per day will focus on transgender intersectionality, which is the interconnection of categories such as transgender, race, and economic class. Another track will focus on transgender youth.
While details are still being confirmed, Mott says workshop and presentation topics will include medical care, coming out in the workplace, the legal aspects of persons who are transgender, and transitioning with a lack of monetary resources.
Provided by Nicole Fenoglio, LMSW, co-chair for the Sedgwick County Suicide Prevention Coalition
September is National Suicide Prevention month and, thus, a good time to address this difficult but real issue. Suicide rates in this country are on the rise and yet life expectancy rates for Americans are at an all-time high. In a study done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2012, suicide rates were the highest they had been in over 25 years.
In 2013, someone died by suicide every 12.8 minutes. The highest suicide rates are among individuals aged 45-64. The suicide rate for men is four times higher than women.
In Sedgwick County in 2014, there were 82 suicide deaths. Firearms accounted for the highest method of suicide at 55%. People between the age of 35-54 accounted for the highest rate. Additional data shows 63% of those completing suicide had a history of mental illness or substance abuse. Medical issues were noted in 43% of suicides.
While there is an indication of a history of mental illness in many people that have committed suicide, there may be a misperception of what that really means. Mental illness, still stigmatized in our society, may often be thought of as a condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, mental illness can include many other conditions such as depression or anxiety.
WICHITA - This summer BLgTUSA Partnership kicked off a 50-state food tour for LGBT rights. The organization connected with chefs and local community centers on each stop of the tour. Partnered chefs will feature a spin on the BLT sandwich, the BLgT. Proceeds from the BLgT will go to each local LGBT community center. BLgTUSA aims to amplify the work being done on a local level to spur national conversations about equality.
The tour for the Wichita area started Aug. 5 and will run through Sept. 22 with Fork & Fennel being the partnered chef who is participating in this fundraiser. For each BLgT sandwich purchased, part of the proceeds will go to The Center of Wichita.
Fork & Fennel is located at 3425 E. Douglas. It’s open 11am–12am Tues-Thurs and 11am–2am Fri and Sat. forkandfennel.com.
WICHITA - John Paradiso of Brentwood, MD has three pieces in the upcoming Wichita National All Media Craft Exhibition 2015 opening Aug. 28 at Wichita Center for the Arts (WCFTA).
Paradiso’s work consists of hand-stitched cotton images presented in wooden hoops featuring male nudes. While not something one would normally see at WCFTA, this particular exhibit had a guest juror: Linda Sikora. The opening reception is on Final Friday, Aug. 28 from 5-7pm and Paradiso will be in attendance.
The exhibition is open through Oct. 18 at Wichita Center for the Arts, 9112 E. Central. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 1-5pm. For more info, visit www.john-paradiso.com.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
SALINA - The Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project (K-STEP) celebrated its fifth year as an organization on Aug. 14. President and executive director Stephanie Mott says the organization has been extremely successful in working to achieve its vision and mission, which is summarized on the group’s website as, “ending discrimination against transgender Kansans through education.”
The organization relies on volunteers to execute its mission to provide transgender education to universities, community colleges, drug and alcohol treatment centers, various LGBTQ groups, government entities, faith organizations, and more across the state of Kansas.
K-STEP began in 2010 in the Prescott Room of the Salina Public Library. On Aug. 15, the group convened in the same room to reflect on and celebrate the last five years of the organization.
By Grayson Barnes
WICHITA - This September, Roxy’s at 412 ½ E. Douglas, will be presenting Tru, a one-man play about the life of author Truman Capote. It will run only one weekend, from Sept. 18-20. The story, written by Jay Presson Allen, is based on two evenings with Truman Capote as he bemoans his fall from society’s grace while ingesting vodka, pills, and chocolates.
The play drops into Capote’s life years after he wrote In Cold Blood about the Clutter family murder in Holcomb, KS. As he traipsed among the rich and famous all over the globe, he gathered information for another book, which he titled Answered Prayers. The activities of his rich and famous friends and acquaintances came out when Capote published a few chapters from the book in Esquire Magazine. Some of these pastimes were not flattering. Many of his friends deserted Capote as a result. He reflects on this in the play as well as his life in general, making for a funny, poignant, and compelling drama.
Tru originally opened on Broadway in 1989 and was performed 297 times. Robert Morse starred and he won a Tony Award and, later, an Emmy for a 1992 PBS version. In the Roxy’s production, Wichita actor Tom Frye will be reprising a role he has played four times previously.
Frye is returning to Wichita after having spent part of the year in New York and Missouri. This will be the first time for Tru at Roxy’s, but Frye has performed it at The Center for the Arts and Wichita State University.
Allen, Tru’s author, wanted to open the play in St. Petersburg, FL, the first time Frye performed it, but then decided on Wichita. This September will be its only weekend in Wichita, before it opens in Arizona.
Frye says the script is phenomenal. “I may be prejudiced, but Jay Presson Allen’s script of Tru is TRULY brilliant. Her screenplays were Cabaret, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, 40 Carats, Prince of the City and Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie. I did this role before with Jay [Presson Allen] directing. It was quite an experience.”
Frye also feels like he has an inside track on the play because he had the opportunity to work directly with Allen when she directed his earlier performances. “It was an awesome experience to work with the writer – there was a lot of give and take – I could ask her directly what she thought I should do. Sometimes I would come up with something and she would tell me to do it.
“The key to a good play,” adds Frye, “is the script and the performers.” Since there is only one performer in this play, it takes a lot of work from one person to carry the story. Frye laughs that he has “only one line in the show that lasts for four hours!”
By Grayson Barnes
Patience and Sarah
Written by Isabel Miller
Narrated by Janis Ian and Jean Smart
Audible, Inc. releases its audio version of Patience and Sarah, by Isabel Miller in September. The fact that this swoon-worthy selection of Lesbiarcana is resurfacing is fantastic all by itself, but one of the characters (“Sarah”) is narrated by (wait for it) JANIS IAN, who definitely holds a place on the Lesbian Pedestal of Worship.
Ian is a songwriter and singer whose career started in the 1960’s. She came out as lesbian in the 1990’s. The other character (“Patience”) is brought to life by actress Jean Smart. Some may remember her from Designing Women and Frasier, but Smart is also noted for her award-winning voice work.
Patience and Sarah is one of the foundational works of lesbian fiction. It originally appeared as a self-published novel titled A Place for Us in 1969. It given its current name and offered to the public by McGraw-Hill in 1971. It won the first Stonewall Book Award later that year. In 1998, it debuted as an opera at the Lincoln Center Festival. Miller only got to hear a few songs from the opera before her death. Later, Patience and Sarah was adapted into a screenplay called Greener Pastures. Today, the book ranks 24th on The Publishing Triangle’s “100 Best Gay and Lesbian Novels.”
It is loosely based on the lives of the painter Mary Ann Willson and her companion, Miss Brundidge. Miller discovered them while trolling through museums in Greene County, NY. She felt this kind of story was worth telling, but instead of trying to recreate historical people, Miller opted for the fictional Patience White and Sarah Glover.
The story is narrated in turns by Patience, who has been left fairly well-to-do as a result of her father’s will and Sarah, a pants-wearing woman raised by her father to be the “boy” in a family of girls. Patience has living quarters attached to her brother’s house. Patience has her first glimpse of Sarah when she delivers wood on a frigid winter day. Intrigued by Sarah, Patience invites Sarah inside to warm up.
The acquaintance builds into love as they share their first kiss. “And I felt her lips on my cheek, nibbling towards my mouth, and getting there, and staying; and I knew why she’d been afraid and wondered why I hadn’t been, why I had lured this mighty mystery and astonishment into the room, into our lives. I turned my head to save my life.” After that – “Oh, we were begun. There would be no way out except through.”
They make plans to leave Connecticut to build a place together in Genesee County, NY. Before this happens, though, the couple is “outed” to their respective families. Sarah, adamant in her fortitude, proclaims her love for Patience. Patience, however, denies it.
The next spring, Sarah dresses herself as a boy (“Sam”) and sets off to explore New York by herself. Beset by delays, she comes across an itinerant bookseller, with whom she spends the summer traveling. Sarah/Sam becomes the bookseller’s “hired boy.” It is within this relationship that she finds what it means to be a “man.”
WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to an Associated Press story in which it’s reported that the Department of Defense will soon announce a plan for lifting the ban on open service by transgender people in the military.
“Transgender Americans have every right to serve their country openly and honestly, and for far too long, this discriminatory ban has robbed them of the dignity of doing so,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The time for ending the military’s longstanding ban on transgender service is long overdue. Values that represent the foundation of our armed services--including integrity, respect and courage--will become more true when these outdated regulations are finally updated. We welcome reports that the Pentagon is planning to announce it will end the ban, and we will carefully review their plan for doing so.”
According to the Associated Press, the announcement is expected this week and “the military would have six months to determine the impact and work out details, with the presumption that they would end one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service.”
Petition was launched in response to the tragic story of Leelah Alcorn and calls for help to ban the dangerous and discredited practice
WASHINGTON – Today, the White House responded to a petition with over 120,000 signers seeking “help to ban the practice known as 'conversion therapy.’” The petition came in response to the heartbreaking story of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old transgender youth who tragically took her own life after being subjected to the horrifying experiences of the dangerous and discredited practice. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization hailed the White House’s response to the petition.
“The White House statement today is historic and sends a clear message that this dangerous and discredited practice should be relegated to the dustbin of history,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention. Conversion therapy uses fear and shame that no child should be exposed to, telling young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are.”
“So-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ devastates LGBT people and their families, and we commend the president for speaking out against these dangerous and discredited practices.”
(Washington, April 8, 2015) –Today President Obama condemned efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity – sometimes referred to as “ex-gay”, “conversion” or “reparative” therapy – for minors.
In a statement released today, President Obama calls for an end to “conversion therapy,” stating in part, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
WASHINGTON – Today, major corporations signed on to launch a statement by businesses speaking out against an onslaught of anti-LGBT legislation being considered in states around the country. The statement, launched today by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, calls on public officials to defeat or abandon efforts to enact these harmful pieces of legislation. Other corporations are expected to sign on to the growing list in the coming days, reflecting an ever increasing momentum to stop these bills.
In a Sunday op-ed for The Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook decried pro-discrimination laws as dangerous and called on business leaders to speak up. Joining Cook in calling out these laws are long time supporters of equality: American Airlines, Inc.; Apple, Inc.; Levi Strauss & Co; Microsoft Corp.; Orbitz Worldwide; Replacements, Ltd; Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; Symantec Corporation; and Wells Fargo & Company.
WASHINGTON--April 1, in response to the announcement that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will ask the Arkansas Legislature to recall the discriminatory H.B. 1228, amend it to mirror the provisions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that he will consider an executive order granting an unspecified set of protections for LGBT state employees, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released this statement from its President, Chad Griffin.
"It's clear Governor Hutchinson has heard the voices of thousands of Arkansans and millions across the nation, and today's decision to temporarily stop this discriminatory law from advancing is a sign of progress. But the proof will be in the pudding, and we must now wait to see what actions and language Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature put forward in the coming days and weeks.